C O N C L U S I O N:
What is the true state of affairs?
The feudal controllers of the government appear to have long-term strategy to maintain the status quo by ignoring human resources development and keeping the masses illiterate. Even before independence, the feudal lords blocked spread of education in their respective areas for selfish reasons. Since independence, all governments have without exception, deliberately curbed the spread of literacy. Education has never been a priority with any form of government whether it was a democratic or a military one. Since all governments, including the martial law regimes, solely depended on feudal support, they intentionally suppressed education, a potential threat to the status quo.
Our budget allocation of education as a percentage of GNP is one of the lowest in the world. The low expenditure on human development is bound to drag Pakistan down from an unenviable 132nd position to somewhere in 150s on the Human Development Index of 173 nations. Pakistan Human Rights Commission report for 1995 highlights the alarming situation of the educational sector: There were more than 57 million adult illiterates (According to the 1981 census since no census was held after that); 35,000 primary schools had no roof and four million children of school going age went to no school.
NOT TAX PAYERS
The lack of interest shown by the successive governments in the imposition and collection of Agricultural Tax also bears testimony to their efforts to protect feudal interests. The NWFP collected Rs. 4 million from the tax on agriculture incomes in 1994 and another Rs.5 million was collected from Sindh. In the Budget of 1995-96, the agriculture sector was not brought into the income tax net as demanded by the business and general public on the grounds that all segments of society should pay equally to the national exchequer, irrespective whether they were industrialists, traders or big landlords.
To remove the resource crunch, the caretaker prime minister Dr. Moeen Qureshi had urged levying of taxes on agricultural incomes as well as wealth. For this purpose he had also got the required enabling laws drafted for enactment, in accordance with the 1973 constitution, by the provincial governments for taxes on income and by the federal government for agricultural wealth.
The enabling laws have been enacted by the federal government and the provincial governments of NWFP and Sindh. The Pakistan Democratic Front coalition in Punjab, agriculturally the most important province in the country, has so far refused to take any initiative in the matter. The feudal lords and their hangers-on constitute only 5 per cent of our agricultural households and own 64 per cent of our farm land. The rest of the 95 per cent house-holds are important for them only as a political vote-bank.
A wealth tax collection of about Rs. 2.9 million is reported to have been made from the agriculture sector in 1994-95. Ten thousand agriculturists were expected to pay wealth tax, but only 1800 filed their wealth tax returns and just 300 of them paid any wealth tax. What the agriculturists paid as wealth tax, is a negligible amount relative to the total wealth tax collection of Rs. 900 million from 60,000 tax payers.
In the ten years up to 1993-94, President Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari, former Prime Minister Balakh Sher Mazari, Nawab Akbar Bugti, Sindh Chief Minister Abdullah Shah, former chief ministers of Sindh Qaim Ali Shah and Muzaffar Hussain Shah, former Punjab Chief Minister Manzoor Watto, former Chief Minister of NWFP, Sabir Shah, PML (N) turn-coat Nawaz Khokar, PML (N) MNA from Murree Shahid Khakan Abbasi, Balochistan MNA Mehmood Khan Achakzai, former Balochistan Chief Minister Zafrullah Khan Jamali, Federal Minister Ghulam Akber Lasee, PPP MNA from Punjab, Faisal Saleh Hayat, Federal Minister Khalid Ahmed Kharal, PML(J) Chief Hamid Nasir Chatta, to name a few, did not pay a single penny by way of taxes. All these people are filthy rich. But since their incomes come from the agricultural sector, therefore they had remained outside the tax net. A report of the Income Tax Department in respect of income tax paid by MNAs, Senators and MPAs from 1985 to 1993 showed that 70 per cent MNAs paid no tax at all, and only 32 paid less than Rs. 5,000 and at least 13 ministers did not pay any tax.
No doubt, the feudal system remains the main obstacle to the progress of the nation and must be abolished forthwith. Like many other developing countries, in Pakistan too the feudal system keeps the agricultural sector chained to an iniquitous land-tenure system and distinguishes itself only by an unnaturally high degree of land concentration, absentee landlordism, insecurity of tenure for share-croppers, extraction of excessive surplus as rent, and low agricultural productivity. This system corrupts the entire society by propagating a false value system that degrades the cultivators of the land while strengthening the claims of the non-cultivators, it also condones unproductive rent-seeking in all kinds of economic activities. Such inhuman practices as slavery and bonded labor flourish under the dark shadow of this cruel system. According to the Pakistan Human Rights Commission report for 1995: a. Ten million children did labor in brick kilns, farms, carpet manufacturing workshops and restaurants. b. Twenty million workers in agriculture and industry did bonded labor. Feudalism is a pivotal problem and all other problems flow from it.
THE EIGHTH CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Our constitution is fundamentally based on the principle of a parliamentary form of government in which an elected Prime Minister is answerable to the people through the National Assembly. However, General Zia's Eighth Amendment to the constitution had created two centers of power. While the Prime Minister is the chief executive and the President has virtually no role in the day-to-day running of the country, the Article 58 (2) empowered the indirectly elected president to dissolve the National Assembly if "a situation has arisen in which the Government of the Federation cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and an appeal to the electorate is necessary." Our political history of the last one decade has proved that this provision had in practice made the indirectly elected President, who is not answerable to the people, more powerful than the elected prime minister. The Eighth Amendment in practice was aimed at perpetuating a quasi-military rule by investing the president with vast discretionary powers to override as well as dismiss the prime minister and dissolve the parliament.
Since May, 1988, when General Ziaul Haq packed Junejo's government, this power was invoked four times to dismiss elected governments and dissolution of parliaments. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Benazir Bhutto's government in August 1990 under this Article. He also invoked the same provision to send Nawaz Sharif home in April, 1993. The Eighth Amendment was intended, so it was claimed, to restore the balance of powers between the President and the Prime Minister but it created two centers of power and the constant tension between the two had been a source of instability. It was this tension which resulted in the removal of Prime Minister Junejo from office in a most unceremonious manner.
Taking the argument that the Amendment was an anti-martial law mechanism, it must be remembered that Bonapartist ambitions are unlikely to be contained by a few written words in a document which means little to those whose legitimacy flows from the barrel of the gun. It is the objective conditions, both domestic and international, which tip the scale. In our constitutional history, neither the politicians nor the military leaders respected the Basic Law. General Zia had once proudly proclaimed that he could tear up the constitution and throw it into the dustbin whenever he liked. This he nearly did with his wanton disfigurement of the constitution through the Eighth Amendment.
On April 1, 1997 both houses of parliament passed the 13th amendment to the constitution which deleted Artricle 58(2)(b), the most disputed part of the 8th amendment. The 13th amendment not only stripped the president and governors of their powers to dissolve the assemblies but also restored the prime minister's mandatory advice in the appointment of armed services chiefs and governors. The 8th amendment had made more than 40 changes in the constitution. However, Nawaz Sharif opted to remove only those parts of the 8th amendment which were a potential threat to his government but has failed to touch those parts which pose a threat to society, particularly the weaker and disadvantaged sections like women and minorities.
GENERALS IN POLITICS
Professor Ziring says: "Military systems may or may not promote political development, and modernization, nevertheless, their monopolization of coercive power generated their dominance in Pakistan as in Bangladesh and so many other Third World countries." The political power of the armed forces of Pakistan is greater than the power of the elected representatives of the people as well as of the judiciary. Time and again the former have provoked their supremacy. Since the days of the speakership of Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan, the legislature of Pakistan has been humbled on several occasions. The Constituent Assembly could not be dissolved in 1954 without the backing and blessings of the Army chief. The judiciary has also gone along with the armed forces in legitimizing the martial law regimes, one would like to believe, not always willingly. The manner of the removal of some judges of the superior courts and installation in their place of some others by General Ziaul Haq also shows the supremacy of the army over the judiciary.
One could quote extensively from the books of two distinguished soldiers - Air Marshal (retired) Mohammad Asghar Khan's Generals in Politics and Lt-General (Retd) Faiz Ali Chishti's Bhutto, Zia Aur Mein for pointed and repeated references to the role the autocratic military rulers had played in the past. The former Chief of Army Staff, General Aslam Beg's disclosure, in February 1993, that he influenced Supreme Court's judgment which refused to restore the Junejo assembly is the latest example of army's supremacy.
After the death of General Zia the military establishment did not impose martial law inspite of the insistence of some caretaker Chief ministers, particularly that of Punjab. However, this was not out of the love for democracy and will to surrender itself to civilian control, but because it found the international and national political climate hardly conducive for another martial law. The ruling elite, who have ruled Pakistan in a series of shuffled combinations since the early 1950s, reached the lowest ebb of their ability to govern sometime in the 1980s. By the beginning of the present decade their pathetic inability was no more a state secret. Consequently, the major factions of the ruling elite who have ceaselessly quarreled among themselves for about four decades, have now opted for a political truce. This has happened because the accumulated consequences of the past misrule have so unhinged the elements of society that no single faction of the ruling elite (the feudal aristocracy, generals, bureaucrats and an assortment of influentials) can, by itself, even hope to put them all together again. And this has happened at a time when the quiet anger of the people is about to turn into a rage, and their frustration into violent protest. However, the truce, is not between equals as the army is not only the first among equals, but also the sole arbiter.
With the movement for restoration of democracy agitating for a political change, the army instead found it more practical to continue with the system of "shared power" with Muslim Leaguer Ghulam Ishaq Khan as President guarding the established power structure and Ziaist political legacy. When elections within 90 days became inevitable in 1988 and the Benazir Bhutto-led PPP experienced a new populist upsurge, the military establishment with the support of the President created an alliance of anti-PPP political groups and parties - the Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (Islamic Democratic Alliance). Led by an immensely rich industrialist, the establishment-supported IJI fully restored the traditional power equilibrium accepting the supremacy of the military and the president-led bureaucracy in politics.
Under the constitution the chief of army staff has no executive powers whatsoever. The powers of the president for running the day to day government are extremely limited. It is the prime minister who is the chief executive of the state. But the reality of the exercise of power is quite different on the ground. It is well known that, on vital matters, the part of the mind of the military carries a lot of weight with the civilian authority.
So long as the Prime Minister works in the framework of the system of "shared power" he/she can continue. Any attempt to change the system would cost him his job as it happened to Junejo, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in his first stint. As long as the prime minister does not interfere in areas that the army has come to regard as its own, he will have their full backing.
Although foreign and nuclear policies are key elements of every government's portfolio, but the ready advice of the GHQ on all such matters has reduced the foreign office to a sophisticated front desk for the decision-makers in the back room. Armed forces are in fact a means to foreign policy ends while foreign policy does not exist to serve a military's needs. However, an internationally, recognized prime minister is far more able to pull off difficult deals abroad where the new political protocol favors an exclusion of uniformed negotiators except in bilateral arms deals.
Defense spending is another important matter. The mushrooming defense budget has become not just a sacred cow for every political government but also very often its economic nemesis. The present economic crisis has been largely perpetuated by a bloated defense budget that the army would find politically and internationally impossible to allocate to itself if it was ruling the country. The generals need a civilian face to any government, if for no other reason than to ensure that the defense budget is not too seriously questioned inside and outside the country.
What seems to have happened is that the army, conscious of the world antipathy to the overthrow of civilian regimes, has become more sophisticated about its political role. Although the present chaos has seriously undermined its faith in the present political system but the military realizes as never before that the complexity of today's crisis in Pakistan's polity cannot be solved by the military. At the same time, even the most ambitious general no longer needs to take over power openly because he now has a host of politicians to do his bidding without having to take the blame and responsibility of wielding political power openly. The military's intervention in politics in the past has fundamentally changed political attitudes of politicians. Instead of talking to each other to resolve their conflicts, both the treasury and opposition benches looked towards the establishment which is perceived to be the real source of power. Hence, the army high command's decision to rest content with dominance rather than direct intervention has been based on a careful calculation of the advantages and disadvantages of playing umpire in a highly polarized and increasingly violent political arena.
However, the army got an official role in the affairs of the government when President Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari, on January 6, 1997, formed the Council for Defence and National Security (CDNS). The new council, first conceived by late General Ziaul Haq, will be headed by the president (who is also the Supreme Commander of the armed forces) and will include chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Chiefs of the three armed forces, the prime minister, ministers for defence, foreign affairs, interior and finance.
Literally speaking, the council is only an advisory body and its advice will not be mandatory or binding on the government. According to the presidential order, that amended the Rules of Business, 1973, the CDNS will aid and advice the government in:
(a)Determination of national strategy and fixation of priorities in terms of over-all national security.
(b) Formulation of defence policy in accordance with national strategic objectives and securing of assessments and plans for the fulfilment of the defence policy.
(c) Coordination of defence policy with external and domestic policies.
(d) Definition of the task of the armed forces of Pakistan in accordance with the national strategy.
(e) Economic and financial policies affecting defence and national security.
(f) Recommendations relating to internal security, proclaimations of emergency and any other matter of national importance referred to the Council for defence and national security by the president or the prime minister.
The creation of the CDNS is seen as a significant step to emasculate the office of the prime minister. Call it a mere consultative body or give it any other innocuous name, the CDNS would, by virtue of its membership profile, in reality to be a super cabinet under president. Obviously, a body that consists of the highest civilian and military brass in the land is not about to take kindly to its 'advice' being turned down. It goes also without saying that some of its members will be more equal than others. Even if the civilian six stand together, it is unlikely that they will assert themselves against the military four, if the past is any guid.
The German sociologist, Max Waber, says: "highly trained bureaucratic experts will prevail against the less expert ministers who ostensibly run the administrative units, the cabinet which ostensibly guides over any policy and the legislature which ostensibly make policy." The bureaucracy in Pakistan is not an exception to such predictions. It is this group of bureaucracy who has been, along with the military generals, formulating the policies and political as well as ideological framework of Pakistan. And being permanently in office, unlike the politicians, who come and go at their behest, it is they who have the power to actually govern the state as an administrative group.
In our society, bureaucracy is not a set of individuals who act according to their whims and fancies or merely to promote their selfish interest. Pakistan has inherited the bureaucratic structure and procedures from the British colonial master. It has grown up, with the needs of time, in a highly developed "power complex", like a machine or a system of self-sustaining living organism. It exists on the basis of rules, regulations, laws and constitutional provisions. It would be correct to say that bureaucratic "power complex" was invented by British to rule their colonies. Britain itself did not have a "power complex" to regulate its life as the one it created for India and other colonies. Its rule was responsible to none but to the government in London through the governor-general.
The bureaucracy -- the Indian Civil Service -- was essentially a mercenary force in which the sons of the local collaborating elite were inducted to do the dirty work for the colonizers, which they did with extreme "efficiency." Its interests and orientations were, therefore, diametrically opposed to those of the people and those of the post-colonial independent societies. The bureaucracy thus was the biggest hurdle in the way of decolonization of our society and the creation of a truly democratic state in the post-independence era.
In the late forties and early fifties the political parties played different roles in the two wings of Pakistan. While in the eastern wing the parties had a mass appeal and they could win elections on the basis of their popularity, in the western wing such popular appeal was lacking and hence elections could be managed at the bureaucratic level. It is this opportunity which pushed the position of bureaucracy to greater heights and they could rise above the politicians in the western wing. With the passage of time the failure to produce a constitution in time further lowered the position of the politicians. The rise of three bureaucrats, Ghulam Mohammad Malik, Choudhuri Mohammad Ali and Iskandar Mirza gave moral support to the strength of the bureaucrats and they could manipulate the Central government in a manner that suited them.
This led to disenchantment between the two wings of Pakistan. The comparatively better position of the bureaucracy and the politicians in the western wing of the country played a decisive role in making the politicians weaker and weaker pushing up the bureaucrats to higher position of not only executive control but also policy making. Governor General, later President, Iskandar Mirza could also manipulate to form the Republican Party. Thus for all practical purposes the politicians in the western wing came to play in the hands of the bureaucrats. Such a dual role of a government can be played better by the army personnel than the civil bureaucracy since army commanders are more disciplined and hard working. Thus the door was opened for military rule, not because the politicians failed but because the bureaucrats would not give any chance to the politicians to play a genuine role by going to the people for support. Democracy, which started well in Pakistan, was throttle by the bureaucrats.
The first public exposure that who was really in control of Pakistan political system, behind the facade of nominal parliamentary institution, came with governor general's dismissal of the Prime Minister in April 1953. Ghulam Mohammad, a bureaucrat by profession had taken over power as governor-general after the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan. His dismissal of prime minister Khawaja Nazimuddin's cabinet impugned the role of the legislature as the maker and sustainer of government. This showed how in-effective was the link between the prime minister and the institutions of party and parliament. Thus the establishment of a system of central executive rule, rather than of cabinet government based on a representative legislature encouraged the concentration of power in a group of officials divorced from mass politics.
Playing persistently over the wicket of "external security threat" from India, from the very inception of Pakistan on the one hand and, negation to evolve strong, stable and genuine political institutions and forces in the first decade of our independence on the other, paved the way to the emergence of new political actors along with bureaucratic lineal decedents of ICS. In 1958 the Khaki did not only overtly jumped in our politics but in fact it proved as a foundation stone for the subsequent martial laws of 1969 and 1977, which in turn facilitated the emergence of military bureaucracy and a group of people composed of both rural feudals and urban corporate interest, could be rightly called "capitalist and elite" force.
The bureaucracy and the police play an important role in the running of the system. The standards and quality of life being apparently enjoyed by the majority of our bureaucrats today leave no room for doubt that it has over the years become an extremely lucrative and comfortable business to be a bureaucrat. The comforts and glamorous lifestyles reserved for the bureaucracy in this country are with very few parallels in the contemporary world. The sizes of the Deputy Commissioner houses, Superintendent of Police houses, Commissioner houses and so on, alone are sufficient to support and corroborate this allegation.
According a retired bureaucrat, the present bureaucrats could be divided into three categories: the obstinate uncompromising old type, the bewildered transient, and the accomplished ones. The self-disciplined old type, still hanging on to his professional ethics, is treated by our society as a fossil. He is today an insignificant residue, appearing as a mole, cyst or pimple on the 1995 muscular mass. His normal abodes are the dark, dingy, desolate and unfrequented corners of the administrative world. The rulers are happy to keep him in cold storage because he can say "no" to them. The bewildered transient is in the evolutionary process of forced conversion from the old to the new. He is unable to withstand the social compulsions around and the career ambitions within. Internal conflicts notwithstanding, he goes along with the rulers unwillingly. The show, however, is stolen by the new bureaucrat who nods, but he nods only to those who matter. All the antennae of his personality are attuned to the corridors of power. He has perfected the art of extracting the full price for selling his soul. His creative genius pours lyrical praise in royal ears. His Midas touch coverts don'ts into do's, because his dexterous dynamism is not deterred by rules, regulations, procedures or systems. To sum up, he has been elevated from "government servant" to "government partner," eligible for a holy alliance with the politicians. For his career prospects even the sky is not the limit.
E C O N O M Y
Pakistan has received 49.86 billion dollar aid during the last five decades which exceeds the total of the famous Marshal Aid for Europe. However, we do not have much to show for all that aid. Foreign debt is mounting from $16.6 billion in 1990-91, to $24.4 billion in 1994-95, and the continuous rise in domestic debt has been from Rs 445.1 billion in 1990-91 to Rs. 796.8 billion in 1994-95. The defense budget coupled with the costs of administration, expenditure on para-military forces as well as interest payments on military debt accumulated over the years has greatly limited Pakistan's policy options with disastrous effects on its development trajectory. The rate of growth of non-productive expenditure on the military and the civil administration has been consistently out of all proportion with productive expenditure.
Successive governments of Pakistan, even before President Ayub Khan days, have been building a military machine that could not be kept in good repair by the country's own resources. It has always needed foreign aid. The greatest justification that General Zia used to give for his adventurist Afghanistan policy was that it brought American military and economic aid to this country - an aid that served its purpose while it lasted. Day-to-day needs of the armed forces have forced this country's rulers to stand in a queue in Washington, hat-in-hand. Nothing could be more ridiculous. Defence forces are intended to provide a means of being independent to a nation: in our case Pakistan's dependence on outsiders has been enhanced by the growing size of its armed forces.
In the budget estimates for 1995-96, debt servicing charges of Rs. 157 billion and defense cost of Rs. 115 billion accounted for 47 per cent and 34 per cent respectively out of the total non-development expenditure of Rs. 335 billion. The two together have an overwhelming share of 81 per cent. The remaining 19 per cent is shared in descending order by grants, general administration, social services, law and order, community services, and subsidies. Social services, including essential items like education, health and other vital welfare spendings, have a share of only 2.7 per cent.
Relevant international comparisons for recent years are none too edifying for Pakistan. Net present value of external debt as proportion of the GNP is 39.1 per cent for Pakistan, 29.1 per cent for India and 18 per cent for China. Pakistan's financial position in respect of external debt is much worse than that of India and China. In domestic debt, Pakistan fares even worse. In the matter of the central government expenditure, the share of education in GDP is 1.1 per cent in Pakistan and double of that at 2.2 per cent for India and China, and that of population with access to safe drinking water is 50 per cent for Pakistan, 75 per cent for India and 71 per cent for China.
Debt servicing burden in Pakistan over eight years from 1986-87 to 1994-95 has been going up at 18 per cent per annum. For the same period the defense cost has been going up annually at the rate of 12 per cent. For the first time the provision for debt servicing took a lead over defense expenditure in 1988-89, when this lead was only of the order of 8.6 per cent. By 1994-95 this lead has acquired the staggering magnitude of 14.1 per cent. In 1987-88, the total of provisions for defense and debt servicing exceeded the total tax revenues collected in that year and since then this lead is continuing apace. It may be pointed that the defense and other major items of expenditure are the causative factors of debt servicing and not vice versa.
Our ruling elites have never been willing to shed their privileges and have in fact been constantly anxious to expand them. The axe of economic land restructuring always falls on the most essential items of public expenditure like education, health, supply of clean drinking water, poverty alleviation and employment promotion programs and maintenance and development of physical infrastructure.
Military regimes in Pakistan rewarded senior officers in the defense establishment with top positions in the state structure as well as semi-government and autonomous organizations. in addition, Pakistan's military dominated state has at each step awarded its principal constituents with the land grants, defense contracts, permits, licenses and ambassadorial appointments. Apart from the monetary perks and comforts that come from being the trustees of a security conscious state, military personnel and their families have enjoyed access to the best health and educational facilities Pakistan has to offer. Service hospitals and garrison schools dignify the landscape of a country, especially in the province of the Punjab, with a dismal record on providing basic educational and health facilities to the bulk of its population.
Military personnel, generally speaking, are better educated than most of the other segments of civil society. Sharply deteriorating educational standards, suffocating curbs on the press and the deliberate neglect of the arts, have done much to reduce the knowledge differentials between military personnel and the small pockets of a civil intelligentsia Pakistan possesses.
Yet most impressive result of more than forty years of dominance over the state apparatus has been the military establishment's extensive tentacles throughout the economy. Each of the three defense services in Pakistan have trusts and foundations with large investments in the national economy. The Fauji Foundation, the Shaheen Foundation and the Bahria Foundation are operating in the country on commercial basis and making high profits, but they do not pay taxes. The Fauji Foundation, run by the army, has eight manufacturing units, including sugar, fertilizer, cereals, liquid gas, metals and a gas field, as well as transportation companies, schools, hospitals and investments in defense production industries. The largest private sector group in industry has assets worth 50 per cent of the just four units of Fauji foundation. The incomes from these units are exempt from taxation and legislation regarding the manufacturing sector. They do not, for instance, have to disclose their assets or make their shares available for public subscription.
So it is the entrenched interests of the non-elected institutions, the military in particular, within the state structure and the opportunities this affords for legal and extra-legal privileges which justifies labeling Pakistan and Bangladesh as the political economies of defense. A political economy of defense by its very nature encumbers the state's development activities, especially when economic resources are scarce and the appetites of the non-elected institutions insatiable.